I would hazard to guess that you never quite understand how many ways you must learn new things before you decide to live life as a different gender. I’ve now seen Squidlet wear a belt for the very first time as he has switched over to wearing his school’s boys uniform. This also involved me having to help with the tying of a tie – it’s good to know that I still have a use in his teenage world!
My memories of my own fumbles with an emerging identity at the age of 15 or 16 are tumultuous in themselves – but at least I had had my entire life to prepare for what was coming. To suddenly switch things around must be so bloody difficult. I think what I like about his attitude the most though is that whilst the masculine pronouns are his thing, he doesn’t see the rest of his identity as being constrained by such straight walled boxes. He’s found this nice mix of all sorts to express who he is, and for me, that is an incredibly comforting thing.
At his age, in some ways my own life was characterised by similar contradictions to “who I should be”. I was equally comfortable behind a sewing machine as I was with a fishing rod or even a rifle. And it was my Dad who showed me how to cook, whilst it was my Mum who taught me how to drive fast. I always wondered why I was brought up in that kind of way, with nobody really conforming to how they “should be”. Perhaps now I understand why.
There are some things though, as a 15 year old boy transitioning to becoming a man, that everyone goes through, and its interesting how some things fall through the cracks. For me, that was being taught how to shave. Strangely, this has been something that has stayed with me throughout my adult life … there’s been a longing I suppose to have had that moment of manly education, rather than floundering through it myself on my own. I once brought this up with my psychologist years ago, the fact that I had to figure it out on my own. She started to use it as a bit of a litmus test with some of her other clients, and the results were interesting to say the least.
Of course when I had a daughter, I would remember the way I taught myself how to shave and made sure that I would never leave my daughter in that place. But being a daughter, there weren’t too many of those sort of seminal moments or lessons that a dad could pass on. Well, not as many anyway. I’ve helped Squidlet to sew, and to cook, and to fish, and soon to drive, but at the big moments, the real life changers … well, it’s just not the same.
So just today we found out that we have an appointment with the transition clinic at the hospital in July. This is a major step and something Squidlet is very excited about. And he doesn’t know it yet, but when he reminded me that testosterone therapy will probably get his facial hair sprouting like nobody’s business, it made me feel just a tad warm inside.
It’s been so hard in so many ways to understand all of this change that’s going on, for Jackson himself, let alone the rest of us. So having little waypoints along the journey to help you to navigate from is just so important. So even if it’s an awkward conversation in a bathroom with shaving cream and a razor, these milestones are going to be massive for all of us, celebrations, revelations, educations and stops along the way … each one something to remember, each one something to do right, and none are to be left to fall through the cracks.
Really, it’s just like raising any other kid, everything’s the same, the lessons, the moments, the love and joy of it all. Except now a lot more of my clothes are being stolen from the wardrobe. Cheeky bugger.
Post script. For the record, the way to shave that I figured out was best for me is in the shower, with a little hand mirror and shaving cream, not gel. A bit of the cream on the mirror stops it from fogging up, or you can run it under hot water so it’s the same temp as the rest of the shower, once again, so it doesn’t fog up. I get a smoother shave if I go against the grain of my hair, but once again, that’s just me. Like so much of life it’s a case of “each to their own” … But like so many things in life, I still wish that I received that helping hand from a more experienced shaver than myself when I first started out …
Shannon's business card reads "photographer, writer, connector, narrator, autodidact, storyteller, wanderer, communicator, collaborator" which is mostly him, but he's also a mad Star Wars fan, a fur dad to two gorgeous little dachshunds and the biased father of one beautifully complicated child.
By day he's apparently working on a classified project that requires a top secret magic decoder ring, and by night he can be found recharging his batteries, usually wearing some sort of flannel.